Only a new arrangement with the Quebec government can extricate racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques from the financial vice its now in, president Ian Wetherly said
this morning during Day 2 of a legal battle in Montreal Superior Court pitting the company and provincial horsemen and breeders.
Attractions Hippiques, which runs Hippodrome de Montréal and three other Quebec tracks in Aylmer, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières, has been in creditor protection since June. It owes its lenders $50 million, and "without a new deal with the government, it's impossible to get new financing," Wetherly said.
Company officials have had five meetings since October with representatives of the finance ministry and talks are ongoing, Wetherly said. He said it's "highly likely" the company will have a restructuring plan ready in the next 30-60 days.
Projected operating expenses for the four provincial tracks and the teletheatre network is $30 million for 2009, while projected revenue from pari-mutuel betting and racetrack VLTs is about $36 million, Wetherly said.
That leaves just $6 million for purses, capital expenses and the lenders. The contract Attractions Hippiques signed when it took over the tracks from the Quebec government in 2006 specified at least $16.7 million for purses in 2009.
Wetherly said the 'ludoplex' gaming centres set up by Loto-Quebec next to the tracks in Quebec City and Trois-Rivières in 2006 are what threw off Attractions Hippiques' financial plan.
Instead of receiving an expected $12-13 million from its 22.5-per-cent share of the net profits from their 535 VLTs in 2008, the company got just $4 million, Wetherly said. "The ludoplex has been a flop. The public doesn't go to these new gaming halls. It has not worked."
(Trot Insider exclusive by Paul Delean)